The Parthenon Enigma Joan Breton Connelly
Ryan Melogy about 1 month ago
There is a tendency to see likeness to oneself when approaching a culture as foreign as that of Greek antiquity. How much more so when looking at a monument that has become the icon of Western art, the very symbol of democracy itself. With these labels comes a projection onto the Parthenon of all our standards of what it means to be civilized. In looking at the building, Western culture inevitably sees itself, indeed, it sees only what flatters its own self-image or explains it through connection to the birthplace of democracy. This association has been reinforced again and again by the adoption of Parthenonian style for civic architecture beginning with the neoclassical movement and culminating in the Greek Revival. From the early nineteenth century on, financial and governmental institutions, libraries, museums, and universities have reproduced classical architectural forms to communicate a set of values, implicitly aligning them selves with the flowering of democratic Athens. One need only look at the Second Bank of the United States in Philadelphia, the British Museum, the U.S. Custom House on Wall Street, Founder's Hall in Philadelphia, the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington, D.C., or the U.S. Supreme Court Building to recognize quotations from the iconic form of the Parthenon. Ironically, these unequivocally secular civic structures have appropriated what is, fundamentally, a religious architectural form. Preoccupied with the political and the aesthetic, we have become all too comfortable with the constructed identity of Parthenon as icon, neglecting its primary role as a deeply sacred space.
David Stuart, the eminent Maya epigrapher, once cogently remarked that the whole Late Classic period was a rehearsal for the collapse. By this he meant that the Maya have fooled us. We see great Late Classic centers such as Tikal or Copan, with their huge buildings, grand palaces, and assertive art and inscriptions as the high tide of Maya civilization. Instead, he suggests, fatal weaknesses lurked behind this glittering facade. The causes of its failure were embodied in its apparent success.
In 1525 Cortez the Killer and his army almost starved to death while crossing a wilderness that had supported millions of people 700 years earlier. The collapse of the Classic Mayan civilization is one of the great mysteries of history. I picked up this book (“The Fall of the Ancient Maya”) because I had visited some of the most famous Classic Period Mayan cities while traveling through southern Mexico and Guatemala, places such as Palenque, Yaxchilan, Bonampak, Coba, Uxmal, and Copan, but I did not have a robust understanding of what had caused the Classic Maya to collapse or even what exactly was meant by “Collapse.” The Classic Mayan civilization existed from roughly 250AD to 1000AD. The peak was from 700 to 900AD. Then it goes into a decline that last a few hundred years, but finally it almost total. The most interesting thing I learned from the book is the completeness of the collapse. The real mystery that seems to remain is not why the collapse happened, but instead why it was so complete. The author presents a strong case that the fundamental reason for the collapse was that the Mayans did not manage their natural resources well. They overfarmed, destroyed the forest to plant crops, and this was all fine until they sorta reached a tipping point. At the tipping point there wasn’t enough food for all the people. When that happened there was chaos. The kings fell, the religion fell, the population decline, wars were constant. Eventually people fled or died. There were stragglers. Weird people living out in the jungle in really old haunted houses. That went on for a couple hundred years, but then finally the jungle had taken it all back and no even knew a lot of the old cities even existed. Good Book. Check it out.
Ryan Melogy over 1 year ago
May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind, obtain an ocean of happiness and joy, may their mundane happiness never decline, and may all of them uninterruptedly receive waves of joy / May those feeble with cold find warmth, and may those oppressed with heat be cooled by the boundless waters that pour forth from the clouds / May all animals be free from fear of being eaten by one another / May the blind see forms, may the deaf hear sounds, may pregnant women give birth without any pain / May the naked find clothing, the hungry find food: may the forlorn find new hope, constant happiness and prosperity / May all who are sick and ill quickly be freed from their illnesses, and may every disease in the world never occur again / May the frightened cease to be afraid and may those bound be free; may the powerless find power, and may people think of befriending one another / May all travelers find happiness everywhere they go, and without any effort may they accomplish whatever they set out to do / May the troubled wanderers who have lost their way meet with fellow travelers, and without any fear of thieves and tigers, may their going be easy and without any fatigue / May those who find themselves in trackless, fearful wildernesses, the children, the aged, the unprotected, those stupefied and insane, be guarded by beneficent celestials / May those who sail in ships and boats obtain whatever they wish for, and having safely returned to the shore may they joyfully reunite with their relatives / May all embodied creatures uninterruptedly hear the sound of Dharma issuing from birds and trees, beams of light, and even space itself / May kings act in accordance with Dharma and the people of the world always prosper
Tropic of Capricorn Henry Miller
Ryan Melogy almost 3 years ago
But I saw a street called Myrtle Avenue, which runs from Borough Hall to Fresh Pond Road, and down this street no saint ever walked (else it would have crumbled), down this street no miracle ever passed, nor any poet, nor any species of human genius, nor did any flower ever grow there, nor did the sun strike it squarely, nor did the rain ever wash it. For the genuine Inferno which I had to postpone for twenty years I give you Myrtle Avenue, one of the innumerable bridlepaths ridden by iron monsters which lead to the heart of America’s emptiness. If you have only seen Essen or Manchester or Chicago or Levallois- Perret or Glasgow or Hoboken or Canarsie or Bayonne you have seen nothing of the magnificent emptiness of progress and enlightenment. Dear reader, you must see Myrtle Avenue before you die, if only to realize how far into the future Dante saw. You must believe me that on this street, neither in the houses which line it, nor the cobblestones which pave it, nor the elevated structure which cuts it atwain, neither in any creature that bears a name and lives thereon, neither in any animal, bird or insect passing through it to slaughter or already slaughtered, is there hope of “lubet,” “sublimate” or “abominate.” It is a street not of sorrow, for sorrow would be human and recognizable, but of sheer emptiness: it is emptier than the most extinct volcano, emptier than a vacuum, emptier than the word God in the mouth of an unbeliever.
Going Clear Lawrence Wright
Ryan Melogy almost 3 years ago
To an outsider who has struggled to understand the deep appeal of Scientology to its adherents, despite the flaws and contradictions of the religion that many of them reluctantly admit, perhaps the missing element is art. Older faiths have a body of literature, music, ceremony, and iconography that infuses the doctrinal aspects of the religion with mystery and importance. The sensual experience of being in a great cathedral or mosque may have nothing to do with “belief,” but it does draw people to the religion and rewards them emotionally. Scientology has built many impressive churches, but they are not redolent palaces of art. The aesthetic element in Scientology is Hubbard’s arresting voice as a writer. His authoritative but folksy tone and his impressionistic grasp of human nature have cast a spell over millions of readers. More important, however, is the nature of his project: the self-portrait of the inside of his mind. It is perhaps impossible to reduce his mentality to a psychiatric diagnosis, in part because his own rendering of it is so complex, intricate, and comprehensive that one can only stand back and appreciate the qualities that drove him, hour after hour, year after year, to try to get it all on the page—his insight, his daring, his narcissism, his defiance, his relentlessness, his imagination—these are the traits of an artist. It is one reason that Hubbard identified with the creative community and many of them with him.
Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Céline,Ralph Manheim
Ryan Melogy almost 3 years ago
Today there’s no such thing as a soldier unworthy to bear arms and, above all, to die under arms and by arms … They’re going, latest news, to make a hero out of me! … How imperious the homicidal madness must have become if they’re willing to pardon—no, to forget!—the theft of a can of meat! True, we have got into the habit of admiring colossal bandits, whose opulence is revered by the entire world, yet whose existence, once we stop to examine it, proves to be one long crime repeated ad infinitum, but those same bandits are heaped with glory, honors, arid power, their crimes are hallowed by the law of the land, whereas, as far back in history as the eye can see—and history, as you know, is my business— everything conspires to show that a venial theft, especially of inglorious foodstuffs, such as bread crusts, ham, or cheese, unfailingly subjects its perpetrator to irreparable opprobrium, the categoric condemnation of the community, major punishment, automatic dishonor, and inexpiable shame, and this for two reasons, first because the perpetrator of such an offense is usually poor, which in itself connotes basic unworthiness, and secondly because his act implies, as it were, a tacit reproach to the community. A poor man’s theft is seen as a malicious attempt at individual redress … Where would we be? Note accordingly that in all countries the penalties for petty theft are extremely severe, not only as a means of defending society, but also as a stern admonition to the unfortunate to know their place, stick to their caste, and behave themselves, joyfully resigned to go on dying of hunger and misery down through the centuries for ever and ever …
Ryan Melogy almost 3 years ago
I shot off his left ear then his right, and then tore off his belt buckle with hot lead, and then I shot off everything that counts and when he bent over to pick up his drawers and his marbles (poor critter) I fixed it so he wouldn’t have to straighten up no more. Ho Hum. I went in for a fast snort and one guy seemed to be looking at me sideways, and that’s how he died— sideways, lookin’ at me and clutchin’ for his marbles. Sight o’ blood made me kinda hungry. Had a ham sandwich. Played a couple of sentimental songs… Shot out all the lights and strolled outside. Didn’t seem to be no one around so I shot my horse (poor critter). Then I saw the Sheerf a standin’ at the end a’ the road and he was shakin’ like he had the Saint Vitus dance; it was a real sorrowful sight so I slowed him to a quiver with the first slug and mercifully stiffened him with the second. Then I laid on my back awhile and I shot out the stars one by one and then I shot out the moon and then I walked around and shot out every light in town, and pretty soon it began to get dark real dark the way I like it; just can’t stand to sleep with no light shinin’ on my face. I laid down and dreamt I was a little boy again a playin’ with my toy six- shooter and winnin’ all the marble games, and when I woke up my guns was gone and I was all bound hand and foot just like somebody was scared a me and they was slippin’ a noose around my ugly neck just as if they meant to hang me, and some guy was pinnin’ a real pretty sign on my shirt: there’s a law for you and a law for me and a law that hangs from the foot of a tree. Well, pretty poetry always did make my eyes water and can you believe it all the women was cryin’ and though they was moanin’ other men’s names I just know they was cryin’ for me (poor critters) and though I’d slept with all a them, I’d forgotten in all the big excitement to tell ’em my name and all the men looked angry but I guess it was because the kids was all being impolite and a throwin’ tin cans at me, but I told ’em not to worry because their aim was bad anyhow not a boy there looked like he’d turn into a man— 90% homosexuals, the lot of them, and some guy shouted “let’s send him to hell!” and with a jerk I was dancin’ my last dance, but I swung out wide and spit in the bartender’s eye and stared down into Nellie Adam’s breasts, and my mouth watered again.
The book is a collection of poems. This is from the poem "What a Man I Was"
On the Road Jack Kerouac
Ryan Melogy almost 3 years ago
Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk — real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious.
Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together. One of my favorite bands is the Hold Steady and i have always loved the lyrics from "Stuck Between Stations": "There are nights when I think that Sal Paradise was right Boys and girls in America They have such a sad time together Sucking off each other at the demonstrations Making sure their makeup's straight Crushing one another with colossal expectations Dependent, undisciplined and sleeping late"